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Trombetta indictment details complicated scheme

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton and a federal grand jury outlined a scheme they say Nick Trombetta used to skim nearly $1 million from PA Cyber Charter School and a foundation he founded, and related entities they say he controlled.

According to the indictment:

• Trombetta founded PA Cyber in 2000 and the nonprofit National Network of Digital Schools Management Foundation, or NNDS, in 2005 to manage the school.

• He founded Avanti Management Group in 2008 and installed four straw owners. The firm made nearly all its money — $9.2 million in 2011 alone — managing NNDS.

• Trombetta and his sister Elaine Neill formed one2one Enterprises in 2006.

One2one:

• Trombetta founded the Buckeye Online School for Success, or BOSS, in 2003 and controlled it until 2006.

• He ordered PA Cyber and NNDS employees to conduct work for BOSS and a company called Wingspan New Mexico that sold online education to districts with Native American students.

• He used Butler County-based Martlin Management, run by high school friend Martin Dorsch, to divert money owed to PA Cyber and NNDS by BOSS and Wingspan to one2one.

• One2one collected $440,000 from Wingspan and BOSS between 2006 and 2008. Trombetta used money from one2one to pay for groceries, meals and travel.

Avanti:

• An unnamed technology company contracted with PA Cyber to provide 11,000 laptops and paid Trombetta, through Avanti, $50 for each laptop in 2010 and 2011.

• Palatine Development, a subsidiary of Avanti, bought a $300,000 twin-engine plane for Trombetta.

• Avanti in 2009 paid $73,000 for an Ohio home owned by Trombetta's then-girlfriend.

• Palatine in 2010 bought Trombetta's home in Steubenville, Ohio, paid off a $110,310 lien and put $47,695 in one2one's bank account.

• Avanti paid $933,000 for a Florida condo in 2011.

• Trombetta made Avanti employees and spouses contribute a combined $40,000 to unnamed political candidates, then reimbursed them.

• Avanti paid $18,000 a month to one2one between August 2008 and June 2012 for consulting it did not provide.

Neal Prence:

• Trombetta and accountant Neal Prence in June 2012 set out to form Presidio Education Network. Trombetta planned to send invoices from Presidio to Avanti to drain its accounts.

• Prence took $8 million in income attributable to Trombetta and put it on the tax returns of Neill and the Avanti shell owners.

David Conti is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7981 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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